Freed journalist invited to US Embassy reception

Journalist Nedim Şener (2nd from R), his wife, Vecide (R), Hrant Dink's widow Rakel Dink (3rd from R) were among the guests of US Ambassador Francis J. Ricciardone (3rd from L) at the reception hosted in honor of CHP deputy Şafak Pavey (2nd from L). (Photo: AA)

March 22, 2012, Thursday/ 23:47:00

Journalist Nedim Şener, who was recently released from prison after spending nearly a year in jail in a coup plot case, was among guests invited to a reception hosted on Thursday evening by US Ambassador Francis J. Ricciardone in honor of a deputy from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP).

Şener's release from jail has been welcome by the European Union, which Turkey aspires to join, and the Turkish government also said the release was a positive development." But detention of journalists including Şener in coup plot cases has created a rift with the US in the past.

In February of last year the US ambassador received a barrage of criticism from the Turkish government when he said the US was trying to make sense of Turkey's stated support for freedom of the press and the detention of journalists. “On the one hand there exists a stated policy supporting a free press. On the other hand, journalists are put in detention. We are trying to make sense of this,” Ricciardone had said. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused him of being a “novice” in Turkish matters.

The reception at the US Embassy, hosted in honor of CHP deputy Şafak Pavey for a recent award she received, was attended  also by the CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu; Rakel Dink, the widow of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink; and two deputies from Turkey's pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), Sırrı Sakık and Hasip Kaplan.

A years-long case on the murder of Dink recently ended with a “frustrating” conclusion, according to the Dink family. The family and their lawyers say the judiciary failed to shed light on the masterminds behind the 2007 assassination of the journalist.

Pavey was honored by the US State Department for her courage and leadership in advocating for women's rights and empowerment, at a ceremony in Washington earlier this month. First Lady Michelle Obama and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attended that ceremony.

Ten remarkable women from around the world who have played a significant role in the struggle for women's rights were honored at the State Department and Pavey, the first disabled female deputy to be elected to the Turkish Parliament, was honored with an award for championing the rights of the disabled in Turkey. Ricciardone said in his speech at the reception that he wants to congratulate all the women for their accomplishments and contributions.

“Through her courage and efforts, Şafak Pavey is a source of inspiration for not only Turkey and women, but for all in the world,” Ricciardone said. He added that Pavey, whom he described as “an outstanding human being,” is the first woman in Turkey who has been presented with this award.

Pavey said she accepted the award on behalf of all Turkish women with brave hearts.